Foam Rolling: Increased Performance, Flexibility, and Recovery?
Foam Rolling, love it or hate it, its not going anywhere. It is a modality frequently used in professional settings, collegiate settings, and clinics across the USA.
Yet, this popular tool has created a divide among many due to its efficacy. Some absolutely swear by it pre, during, and post activity. Others view it as a marketing scheme with no further value than a coat hanger.
One thing is for sure, companies are making billions of dollars on this simply designed object. The movements shown here are not a breakthrough but simply an easy routine to cover your bases before and after the mountain.
My source was a meta-analysis written in Frontiers in Physiology in 2019. A meta-analysis is well respected in terms of scientific research articles and can be interpreted more confidently.
While this article was not perfect, it provided very realistic outcomes.
The authors utilized 21 studies that met the inclusion criteria for their research. Lastly, keep in mind these journals used ‘athletes’ which can be defined many different ways. Below I provide a quick synopsis of their findings and how you can put it into action.
Quick Anatomy and Examples:
Glutes: Everyone’s favorite, these puppies are the most powerful extensors of your hips and arguably the most important muscles for snowboarding.
Hamstrings: Flexors of your knees, these are important for your overall knee strength and health.
Quadriceps: Primary extensors of your knees and control how long you can stay in that deep squat position. Treat these well and they will reward you with more control on/ off the mountain.
Calves: This just feels great… Primary gas pedal movers and and heel side/ toe side control.
Here is what I found from researching scientific journals from quality studies:
- Foam rolling may minimize pain due to the central pain modulatory system. Basically, this means the more you press down on your muscles/ fascia/ nerves, the less you feel the aches of sustained stretching.
- Golgi tendon organ – autogenic inhibition. Same idea as above. When these are activiated, they allow the muscles to stretch more. Hence, foam rolling = I feel more loose before I workout.
- Some evidence of potential performance increases in ELITE athletes, not your average joes. This makes sense because at that level, any edge is noticed
- Minor evidence of decrease in DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This means you may feel less sore after a gnarly leg day. The sample size used was fairly small, more studies needed.
Example of a Foam Roller we recommend. It does not have to be fancy! (This is our affiliate link)
That is it folks!
Foam rolling is not a magic exercise.
At the end of the day, if it feels good and you are getting value out of the movement, do it.
Check out our SNOGA program for pre/post recovery and performance!
Reference: Wiewelhove T, Döweling A, Schneider C, et al. A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery. Front Physiol. 2019;10:376. Published 2019 Apr 9. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00376